ALEXANDRIA, Va.—In an effort to reduce foot traffic and flatten the curve, some state and local governments are directing big-box retailers and grocery chains to stop selling so-called nonessential items to customers. Business Insider reports that this is affecting stores such as Walmart, Costco, Lowe’s and Target in places around the U.S.
These stores are currently open because of their pharmacy or grocery offerings. But as shoppers leave their homes, some are congregating at the only stores that are still open and embarking on multi-hour shopping trips, leaving cashiers and employees at greater risk.
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered all stores with 50,000 or more square feet to cordon off or remove from shelves the following goods: paint, carpeting and flooring, furniture, and items sold in garden centers and plant nurseries. The order took effect Friday. She also directed businesses by today to stop promoting or advertising “goods that are not groceries, medical supplies, or items that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and basic operation of residences.”
In Vermont, the state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development told major retailers to rope off items not listed in the governor’s executive order outlining essential services. Instead, the agency advises customers to shop for these nonessential items via online delivery or curbside pickup.
In Howard County, Indiana, the Board of Commissioners enforced a similar rule last month. According to Business Insider, the board “received complaints from businesses that were forced to close because they sold mostly nonessential items saying it was unfair for other stores to continue selling these products.”
Other localities are following suit: Springfield, Missouri has already taken steps to control what’s for sale and restrict the number of people allowed in a store at one time.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.